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Podcast: A journey through Permanente history


Jay Crosson, MD, and Paul Bernstein, MD, discuss the history of the Permanente Medical Groups


The origins of the “Permanente” name in health care trace all the way back to the World War II era. In the decades that followed, it came to represent world-class medical care that is person- and family-centered, compassionate, evidence-based, technology-enabled, culturally responsive, team-delivered, and physician-led.

In the last episode of the 2022 Permanente Medicine podcast season, host Chris Grant, chief operating officer of The Permanente Federation, takes a closer look at the history and the origins of the Permanente Medical Groups – from their beginnings in the Kaiser Shipyards through the formation of The Permanente Federation and beyond.

Guests on the podcast include 2 individuals who share exceptional knowledge of Permanente history and its unique beginnings.

  • Jay Crosson, MD, is founding executive director of The Permanente Federation and led the organization for its first 10 years. He spent a total of 35 years as a physician and physician executive at The Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Permanente.
  • Paul Bernstein, MD, is the physician historian for The Permanente Federation and a head and neck surgeon with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. He also served as SCPMG’s medical director for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego and was on the medical group’s board of directors.

Dr. Crosson and Dr. Bernstein talk about the evolution of the Permanente Medical Groups – which now total 8 across the country – and highlight some milestone moments that made the practice of Permanente Medicine what it is today. They also delve into the historic importance of The Permanente Federation, the national leadership and consulting organization for the medical groups. The Federation celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022.

We had to not only match the outside world in terms of quality, but demonstrate that our medical groups perform better than any other medical delivery system in the country.

– Jay Crosson, MD

“When you think about what the Federation did and does today, it really gives a single voice to optimize care,” Dr. Bernstein says. “That’s what we’re all about – patient-centered, family-centered, compassionate, evidence-based care – and that’s what the Federation has really pushed for the last 25 years.”

Related story: “Podcast: Leading and innovating during a turning point in medicine”

In this episode

2:27 Origins of the “Permanente” name and its use today

4:28 The role of The Permanente Federation in supporting the Permanente Medical Groups

8:27 Historical work in progress for the Federation and PMGs

10:49 The role of the Federation and PMGs in elevating the voices of Permanente physicians and leaders

14:46 Milestone moments in the evolution of Permanente Medicine

18:22 Ensuring that artifacts from Permanente history are preserved

22:08 Celebrating the Federation’s 25th anniversary and forecasting key success for the next 25 years

On Twitter, connect with Dr. Bernstein at @sdthinkbig and Grant at @cmgrant.

Program notes

For more information about the Permanente Historical Society, email permanentehistorians@gmail.com.

2022 podcast season

Catch up with all previous episode from the 2022 Permanente Medicine Podcast season:

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